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Blues, Poetry and Reggae Combine Seh Sup'm
The August rendition of Seh Sup’m, the Kingston based live music and poetry event, started off with a small audience and big intentions as the live music and poetry event did battle with the mega parties and the need for sun, sea and such that littered Jamaica’s entertainment landscape during the Emancipendence period.
The night got off to an ethereal start as Andre Franz on bamboo flute and MBala on drums combined their eclectic musical approaches. M’Bala, though not listed on the night’s programme as one of the main performers, would return several times for the night lending his skills on multiple drums and percussions to several of the night’s performances.
This month’s open mic’s offerings was few and even further between in terms of the quality of the poetry. Seh Sup’m’s host, Izemi Clem, opened the segment with an offering of his own, followed by a poignant work titled ‘Remnants’ by Jamel Hall. Yet later in the night, the segment would also proffer up Michael St. George, the decidedly tedious dub poet Ayunda as well as a young man who used his poem to woo long his longtime girlfriend. The poem was weak, but the sentiment was strong and the moment went over well with the audience.
A-dZko Simba, accompanied by was the night’s first featured performer. The poet and soon to be debut novelist, recently returned from her stint at the Yaddo Artist Retreat in in Saratoga Springs, New York, delivered a suite of poems in her signature blend of poetry and music. She began with ‘Retelling’ a poem marking racism’s trajectory from slavery to the shooting of Trayvon Martin followed by the insightful ‘This Poem is Called’ which highlights how we lose ourselves and our relationships to the edicts of pop culture. She rounded out her set with ‘Remember the Rhythm’ and ‘Yo Yaddo Word’.
Armed with a rich, melodious voice, decent lyrics and a DJ aesthetic reminiscent of Papa Levi, Hempress Sativa was the second of the night’s major performers. Her demure dress and neosoul vocals presented an intriguing contrast with the militant stance of her music. Sativa delivered a few pieces from her upcoming EP ‘Unconquerebel’.
Performance poet Ras Takura was the last of the night’s poets. He opened with ‘Battered Beauty’ followed by his own work tackling rape, physical abuse, AIDs and predial larceny. Despite the good intentions of his pieces, Takura’s aggressive approach to his performance is daunting and the pieces offer far more narrative than poetry.
Seh Sup’m August closed on a very different vibe brought on by the roots, rocking blues provided by Wayne McGregor on vocals and guitar, accompanied by Mbala on percussions. McGregor’s set, which opened with Eric Clapton’s ‘Running on Faith’ ended far too soon. He performed too of his original pieces ‘Hell No’ and ‘Therapy’ followed by ‘Johnny Be Goode’. An encore was then demanded for which he provided ‘The Thrill is Gone’.
The mid-summer edition of Seh Sup’m also included the eclectic musical selections of DJ Iset who played between the live sets. The event took place in its regular home of Redbones the Blues Cafe, Kingston, on August 3, 2013.